Materials Collection Policy for the Community Library of Western Perry County
A fundamental part of the Library’s service is the selection of appropriate materials to build and maintain collections that will provide for the interest, information, and enlightenment of the residents of our communities. To develop diverse resources within the bounds of budget and space limitations, Library staff regularly evaluates the collection.
The CLWPC endorses the Library Bill of Rights (American Library Association), the Freedom to Read statement (American Library Association and American Book Publishers Council), and the Freedom to
View statement (American Film and Video Association) which are included at the end of this Policy.
The CLWPC recognizes that many ideas are controversial and affirms its obligation to provide materials representing various points of view on current issues, trends, and controversies. The Library does not endorse particular beliefs or views, nor does the selection of an item express or imply an endorsement of the author’s viewpoint. The Library does not restrict access to library services, materials, and facilities based on the age of its library users, with the exception of Internet use (Refer to the Computer and Internet Policy). Parents and guardians have the sole responsibility and right to guide their own children’s use of the library and its resources. Collections are separated into varying age levels (children’s, teen and adult) and formats for the convenience of its patrons’ use.
Selection is a discerning and interpretive process, involving a general knowledge of the subject and its important literature, a familiarity with the materials in the collection, an awareness of the bibliographies about the subject, and knowledge of the needs of the community. Basic criteria for selecting materials include:
- Literary merit and enduring value
- Accuracy and authoritativeness
- Importance of subject matter to the collection
- Reputation and/or significance of the author
- Importance as a document of the times
- Relevance to community needs and/or desires
- Suitability for the intended audiences
- Reviews and recommendations from professional sources
- Quality and suitability of the format
- Popular demand
- Appearance of the title in special bibliographies or indexes
- Availability of the materials elsewhere in the area
The following general guidelines are used to select materials:
- Selection of all library materials is the ultimate responsibility of the Library Director and/or Assistant Library Director, who operates within the framework of policy approved by the Library Board.
- Professionally accepted selection aids, catalogs, and reviewing sources will be used. This includes: professional journals; trade journals; subject bibliographies; publishers’ catalogs and promotional materials; reviews from reputable sources; lists of recommended titles; and sales representatives for specific materials.
- Recommendations from the public are welcomed for consideration. Requests for materials from individuals or groups will be considered for purchase with regard to selection criteria, space, and budget limitations. When a member of the community has a question or an objection concerning the presence of an item in the collection, this concern should be discussed with the Library Director. If this discussion does not address the patron’s concerns, the patron may make a request in writing to the Library Board for consideration of Library Materials.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is not a substitute for collection development, but is meant to expand the range of materials available to library users without needlessly duplicating the resources of other libraries. The ILL process interacts with the collection development process in two ways:
- New titles not owned by the Library that a user wants to obtain through ILL are considered for purchase.
- Titles that have been considered for purchase but which are either unavailable or are not selected will be requested through ILL.
Generally, ILL may not be used for any title that is on order or owned by the Library unless the copy is determined to be missing.
Periodicals and Newspapers
Libraries subscribe to a broad range of periodicals and newspapers, focusing on items of local interest, current topics and popular subject areas. Periodicals and newspapers are retained as deemed appropriate by the Library Director and collections are reviewed annually for additions and deletions.
The Library accepts gifts of materials, but reserves the right to evaluate them in accordance with the criteria applied to purchased materials. The Library may choose not to accept gifts which do not meet the Library’s objectives and policies.
A receipt providing a description of the material and the date of donation will be provided upon request. However, the Library will not provide monetary appraisal of any gift for income tax or other purposes.
The Library retains unconditional ownership of the gift and makes the final decision on the use or disposition of the gift. The Library reserves the right to decide the conditions of display, housing, and access of gift materials. Items with restrictions necessitating special handling or preventing integration of the gift into the general collection will not normally be accepted.
Withdrawal of Materials
The systematic removal of materials no longer useful is an essential part of maintaining an effective library collection. A withdrawal policy insures that the collection remains vital and useful by: discarding and/or replacing items in poor physical condition; eliminating items with obsolete, misleading or superseded information; and reducing the number of copies of titles whose relevance to the community has lessened.
The Library staff will evaluate the materials collection for repair, replacement, and/or discard on an ongoing basis, using the CREW method of evaluation developed by Joseph P. Segal. This process (Continuous Review, Evaluation and Weeding) uses the following criteria to evaluate a title’s current usefulness to the collection: Is content misleading or factually inaccurate? Is item worn out and beyond mending or rebinding? Has item been superseded by a new edition or a better book on the subject? Is this item trivial or of no lasting literary or scientific merit? Is the material irrelevant to the needs and interests of our community? Date of publication, last date circulated, and average number of circulations per year are some of the useful indicators of the above criteria.
Materials withdrawn from the Library will be disposed of in a manner consistent with their quality and condition. Disposition includes but is not limited to: CLWPC book sale, offered to another library or institution, or discarded/recycled. Materials removed because of dated content or poor condition will be discarded/recycled.
Review of Policy
In order to maintain a dynamic selection program which reflects current community needs, the CLWPC Board of Directors will review this policy as necessary. Revisions should be developed by the staff and presented to the Board for its acceptance. The Library reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.
Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
- Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the Library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
- Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
- Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
- Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
- A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
- Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
Adopted June 18, 1948.
Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980, inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996, by the ALA Council.
The Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them.
We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression. These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.
Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference. Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.
We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.
The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.
We therefore affirm these propositions:
- It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority. Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
- Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.
- Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
- It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author. No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
- There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression. To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
- It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous. The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
- It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information. It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is not freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.
- It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one. The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.
We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.
This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers. Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
Freedom to View Statement
The freedom to view, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a Freedom to View Statement The freedom to view, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression.
Therefore these principles are affirmed:
1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.
2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public’s freedom to view.
This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the
AFVA Board of Directors in 1989. Endorsed by the ALA Council January 10, 1990